Sonic LAB: Moog Slim Phatty Analog Synth

The most affordable Moog yet      15/03/11

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10:40 mins

 

Review
I think I should make a confession - I have never owned a Moog anything, nor spent quality time with much Moog gear in the past - apart from some original Moog modules - which did sound pretty amazing I might add.

The Slim Phatty is at the other end of the scale price wise - it being the most affordable Moog Synthesizer in the current range. With more than a passing resemblance to the Little Phatty Stage II (different buttons), it features the same voice and editing system.
With a single voice, its a 100% analog (if you dont count the LCD) synthesizer, its forged from the classic Moog voice structure. 2 OSC, 1LFO, 1 Low Pass Filter (1-4 poles selectable) and 2 Envelopes. Its a simple enough synthesizer to use.

Right out of the box, it feels well built, with sturdy metal case (can be rack mounted, or fitted with wooden end cheeks - both optional extras). Plenty of status lights and four distinct synthesizer sections, each with various selector buttons and a single knob to edit the currently selected parameter - a simple and elegant solution to cutting the cost of real knobs. These are not rotary encoders as they have end stops - their behaviour can be modified to suit (snap, pass-through, track modes), they feel plenty sturdy enough to take a vigorous tweaking.

Additionally, there’s a two row LCD for patch name display (100 programs plus four performance chains of 8 programs) and various extra parameter access handled by a cursor key and rotary-push encoder. Master tune, glide and octave switch also live in this section. At the other end main output and master out mute - does not effect headphone out.

Connections are on the rear panel - Three prong standard mains - 110-240v, MIDI in, out , through, Control voltage inputs - you can run this synth from other analog gear: Gate In, CV in, Filter CV in and Vol CV in.

Audio In jack, output jack and headphone out. Plus a USB connector for accessing the built-in MIDI CV interface complete the connections.

Power Up
Each of the two oscilators have variable waveforms from Triangle through Sawtooth, Square and Pulse Width. They sound pretty fulsome, this is the real deal - plenty of bottom end and buzz to filter down for harmonically rich sounds. Feed them through the filter and now you have the classic Moog paring with a very smooth and rich sounding sweep - resonance brings out some lovely broken harmonics and can really scream. Add the O.L. (Over Load) - this hardwires the old Mini Moog effect of routing the headphone out back into the external input to drive the filter into distortion. It sounds lovely and warm and fuzzy - a real treat.  In short it sounds like classic Mini Moog.

Modulation
With such a solid foundation to build on the modulation section gives you several routings:
Mod Sources: LFO TRI, SAW, rev SAW, SQ, ENV 2, OSC 2, plus S&H and noise - accessed via Advanced parameters in the Master section.
Mod Destinations: Filter, Pitch, OSC 1+2 Wave, OSC 2 pitch. A second mod destination can be setup  in Advanced parameters.

You may have pricked some interest at the mention of Noise, but alas you cannot use it as an OSC wave source, just for modulation.

Easter Eggs
Did I mention the arpeggiator? Yep, theres a simple clockable arp with UP/DOWN/ORDER modes with  octave range, clock divide  and Loop,single mode playback.
A couple of other nice features - press and hold the mod amount button - it flashes - you can now dial in the mod amount rather than use the Mod wheel. Press and hold the LFO rate button - tap tempo for the LFO and the arpeggiator. Its also possible to map the front panel pots to external MIDI controllers for use with external gear.

Bottom Line
Its a very different method of sound creation with an analog synth, its like a living instrument, more so than VA or computer based one. With such compelling building blocks to work with you’ll find yourself  enjoying this synth, it behaves like an instrument and invites real-time control. It also has a massive propensity for bass and screaming dirty sounds when using the filter O.L. param. Sure you can get the classic Moog tones, but this is so much more than the Lucky Man Solo.

It aint cheap, but its a Moog, and the most affordable one in the range. If you feel there’s something missing in your life, it might just be this.

Prices: £699, $845, €849 RRP - cheaper if you shop around.


 

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